The personal Facebook pages for my former employer and his wife have disappeared. I don't know whether or not NuMSP directed the removal, or why.
The "Leadership" page at the NuMSP website has disappeared. There is still a link to it in the footer, but clicking there goes to "Company Goals" instead. Also, the LinkedIn page for CEO Jim Griffith now says he's working somewhere else.
So, who is the new NuMSP CEO?
Not sure, but LinkedIn lists a "national director" named Scott Ostergard in the Ashburn, Virginia location (not the New Jersey offices with other executive managers).
Here's what that page looked like (click open/close) ...
The PetroSource web presence is restored, thanks to a Tulsa company named Direct Allied Agency. This is the kind of professional customer service that PetroSource should have gotten from Realize/NuMSP. Please visit their new site at petrosourcellc.net (new tab/window). Or, visit the developers at directallied.com.
Firm name: Woods & Woods LLC [Realize Information Technology]
We received your Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding, for services performed 2017 to 2021
We determined that you are an employee for federal employment tax purposes.
Dawn Beehler, Program Manager
Internal Revenue Service SB/SE, Compliance
Firm name: NuMSP LLC
We received your Form SS-8, Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding, concerning your work relationship with the firm shown above from 2021 to 2021
We concluded you performed services for the firm as an employee.
Dawn Beehler, Program Manager
Internal Revenue Service SB/SE, Compliance
Hey, Krystal! If there is no connection between all the timesheets I submitted and what I was paid, then why did you or Jeff reduce my PetroSource hours in ConnectWise? If this question is perplexing, then get in touch with Lyndon Laemmerhirt, NuMSP VP of Finance. He's a highly-paid expert.
"It was clearly communicated to Keith Purtell that he was an independent contractor and not an employee."
—Lyndon Laemmerhirt, VP of Finance at NuMSP
Mr. Laemmerhirt was not around during my first month at Realize I.T. Instead, he was Director of Finance and Operations at Awareness Tech, a Connecticut software company.
It was shortly before my first four weeks on the job in 2017 that Mr. Woods pitched his idea for a new web services department. He based it on repeated client requests. On my actual first day, Mr. Woods described my role as "part time."
He did not mention any other job descriptors like "full time" or "intern" or "contractor" or "subcontractor" or "independent contractor" or "seasonal" or whatever.
His office manager and accountant Krystal Staring said that because the new web services was being marketed as a DBA, they had to send me 1099 forms for my yearly income tax.
I believed her.
All this was four years before NuMSP arrived on the scene and Lyndon Laemmerhirt became aware of the employees in their Tulsa office. Specifically, how does Mr. Laemmerhirt know what was communicated and what was clear about it?
I have avoided accounting work my entire life. In high school, I asked a family member to fill out my summer job tax forms. After high school, out on my own, my landlord's brother Ned did my taxes for $20. Thereafter, I either found another small operator or went to places like H&R Block, or automated income-tax websites. My employers gave me standard W-2s, and I didn't read the fine print. I trusted my employers.
Not known to NuMSP?
From May of 2017 to shortly before March 2021, Realize Information Technology had most employees under constant surveillance.
Two cameras were aimed at the hardware technicians downstairs, one was aimed into the lobby where my desk and another was located, and a fourth camera outside faced the staircase that led up to the lobby and administrative offices.
Four large-screen monitors in Mr. Woods's office displayed the video signal, and a similar bank was near the company scheduler's desk in the next room.
I don't know how long the surveillance was in place before I began work there in 2017.
The video gear disappeared in early 2021 shortly before Mr. Woods invited NuMSP execs to Tulsa to consider purchasing RIT.
What is a 'contractor'?
Originally, a contractor was a person who ran their own small business, found health care, and controlled their own vacation and sick leave. They earned enough to set aside money for unemployment, and earned enough to set aside money for income tax. The contractor was a smaller business that worked for a larger business.
A contractor's service has no visible connection with the normal activities of the larger business. Example: Selling hot dogs outside a brain surgeon’s office.
The mental image during this public discussion was that of a super-entrepreneur with funding and business savvy. To this day, words like “entrepreneurial opportunity” show up in documents about contractors. Of course, there is undoubtedly a tiny minority of operators who fit such a description. For this small group, someone invented the IRS 1099 form.
It didn't take long for unsavory employers to realize they could use the 1099—designed for fully-funded entrepreneurs—to remove worker legal protection and cut financial corners: Misclassification. This literally hurts our nation. (Cost of misclassification; new tab/window)
U.S. Dept. of Labor: "Misclassification denies employees access to critical benefits and protections they are entitled to—overtime, the minimum wage, family and medical leave and, in some cases, safe workplaces. It generates substantial losses to the U.S. Treasury and the Social Security and Medicare funds, as well as to state unemployment insurance and workers' compensation funds. It cheats every taxpayer. It undermines the entire economy. In fact, the misclassification of employees as independent contractors presents one of the most serious workplace problems in our economy today."
In short, "misclassification" is a polite word to describe predatory employers stealing money and stripping working Americans of legal protections.
Why would Realize owner Jeff Woods want to strip an employee of all legal protections? Why would NuMSP VP Lyndon Laemmerhirt help Woods block that employee's efforts to be paid for work-hours completed? The following link illustrates why.
Starbucks forced to recognize labor union (new tab/window)
After years of Starbucks corporate abuse, employees across the U.S. are fighting for fairness. The National Labor Relations Board stepped in at this Buffalo, N.Y., location and forced rich-boy owners to cooperate with the union. This deprives the millionaire owners opportunities to treat working Americans like garbage. With Starbucks employees unionized, owners will have less cash for yachts.
Mr. Woods and Mr. Laemmerhirt can look at this example and see themselves getting shamed in a similar manner.
And it won't be the first time: According to former Realize technician Michael Jaudes, Mr. Woods and office manager Krystal Staring allegedly attempted to steal $134 dollars from him as he tried to resign. The ODOL stopped the action cold and required Woods and Staring to pay the wages.
REFERENCE: Krystal Staring 4/23/19 message to Michael Jaudes edited for brevity:
The ODOL blocked this effort by Staring and Woods to use internal resignation policy to overrule federal laws governing vacation pay.
Misclassification illegally deprives workers of basic rights, protections, and benefits guaranteed to employees such as: 1-The right to be paid minimum wage, 2-The right to overtime pay, 3-Time and mode-of-pay protections, 4-Protection against illegal deductions from pay, 5-Unemployment compensation, 6-Temporary disability benefits, 7-Family leave insurance benefits, 8-Workers’ compensation, 9-Family leave and earned sick leave.
Cheating employers bypass the Fair Labor Standards Act, says this EPI article on "(In)dependent Contractor Misclassification" (new tab/window)
Harvard Business Review states that employment "... is inevitably an unequal bargaining relationship" and people deserve to be protected. (new tab/window)
It gets worse
So, for any employer who really, really wants to screw his employees, one easy way to do that is to find a way to make them into "contractors."
Tragically, many workers who should be classified as employees simply do not realize that they have been wrongfully classified as independent contractors [new tab/window].
Employers have enormous advantage over marginalized people. If the job applicant is of color, or female, or LGBTQ, or non-Christian, or older than 40, then they are already struggling to find employment.
Malicious employers look at the struggling job-seeker and see opportunity. They hire that person who is grateful to finally get a job, and then the employer subjects the worker to abuse. That's a profound lack of ethics.
Another ploy is to create a new category of marginalized person—like "contractor"—and find a way to shoehorn people into the category. The employer can then say "I don't have to be fair or honest with John Doe because he's a contractor. Everybody knows contractors don't have rights, and contractors don't deserve to be paid."
Relevance? My last employer—Realize owner Jeffrey Scott Woods—said on my first day May 22, 2017, that my job would be part‑time until Brent [Fields] gets the sales up." In the months and years afterward, he never mentioned the word "contractor."
And, during the first several weeks, his Office Manager Krystal Staring walked over to my desk to instruct me on how to submit the company's standard paper timesheets. She showed me where to find the Excel spreadsheet all the techs used. She then said "Your tax forms will look different than what you are used to, because Jeff is running Luke 5 as a DBA [doing business as]."
But, according to the IRS, a business that is a DBA is not required to send out 1099 forms.
Note that Web Services was always advertised as a department, an integral part of Realize Information Technology; never as an outside business or as outside their computer business. Here's a link to their website on that, and also a PDF version in case the web page mysteriously disappears.
Management at Realize Information Technology (NuMSP) never spoke about or documented any of the other employee categories: Full-time, temp, seasonal, contractor, intern.
One of the most effective ways to get free labor at Realize/NuMSP is "admin time." I don't know how it works at other NuMSP locations, but here was the process in Tulsa. Whenever the owner didn't want to pay an employee for completed work-hours, he would issue a notice declaring the work to be "admin time."
Among the minority of businesses using "billable hours" accounting, only things like trivial office work are considered admin time. Under the original owner, it was a way to reduce payroll expenditures. Imagine this from the bossman's perspective: Need to increase your profits? Just wave your hand and say "admin time" and your employees don't get paid for hours they turned in.
This free-labor scheme is perhaps another reason the new corporate owners at NuMSP decided Mr. Woods was a clever businessman.
When Realize switched from paper timesheets to digital (ConnectWise Manage) in 2019, I got detailed instructions from our company scheduler. She showed me how to set up my timesheet with the entire day labeled "Admin" by default. The only way for me to get paid for company work was to prove the client had specifically requested me to do a task.
"Admin time" was another word for off-the-clock.
"Federal law requires employers to pay non-exempt employees for all the time they are “suffered or permitted to work.” When an employer requires or allows an employee to work certain hours, they are effectively “permitting” that employee to work and are required by law to compensate the employee for their hours worked." —Employment and Consumer Law Group at eclaw.com
It's safe to say Realize/NuMSP has gone far beyond “suffered or permitted to work.”
Where is the next-to-last paycheck from my job at Realize/NuMSP?
After purchasing Realize Information Technology in March 2021, NuMSP (New Jersey corporation, registered in Virginia) began taking over payroll. I submitted my two-week notice and resignation on Aug. 17, 2021. It took a while for my final checks to arrive from NuMSP (table below). But, payment for the first two weeks of August was missing and is still missing.
I knew to be looking for that payroll check and several others because of email sent to me by Realize Office Manager Krystal Staring. Specifically, her note from On Monday, Aug. 16, 2021:
Keith, Here are the amounts you should have received. I can’t tell by your printout because some of the deposits show that there was more than one check deposited at the same time.
...and the last item on that list...
"8/16 $346.20 (this check would not have been mailed just yet)"
This implies that Krystal had already processed my digital timesheets in ConnectWise, and sent the information to NuMSP for their payroll department.
So, the ball was in NuMSP's court as of Aug. 16, 2021. What happened at NuMSP to cause them to decide not to mail out that check for the first two weeks of August 2021?
|Final paychecks from Realize (NuMSP)|
|Employer||date check signed||Check #||Amount||Work period|
Of the two checks that did arrive, both were signed by Parag Ramaiya, who describes himself as a "Financial Planning Analyst." It's unfortunate that this financial analyst can't explain a missing paycheck. Or, explain the ethics of randomly withholding wages from your employees for no particular reason.
And complete silence from: VP of Finance Lyndon Laemmerhirt; Senior Manager, Finance and Operations Katie Kelly; or VP of Operations and co-founder Adam Jacob Muller.
All of this is under the oversight of Comodo CEO Melih Abdulhayoglu, who founded NuMSP, and who sets the overall tone in how NuMSP is managed.
How many other NuMSP employees did not get their next-to-last paycheck?
Probably none; it's ridiculous.
It's also unacceptable for normal businesses. So, if such a thing is unacceptable at NuMSP offices around the U.S., then why is OK in the Tulsa office? Is this an idea from CEO Jim Griffith? VP Lyndon Laemmerhirt?
The only person I can think of who might make such a unusual decision is former Realize owner Jeff Woods. Mr. Woods planned and prepared for two years to respond to his clients' requests for web services. Then, six months into the project, he decided not to hire a salesman. A business without a salesperson is in trouble.
"Karrie and I talked last night and decided that hiring a salesman would have a negative effect on our lifestyle."
Huh? How does more sales hurt a business man's lifestyle?
This decision came from the guy who lists three degrees in business management among his credentials. Also, a doctorate from University of Missouri-Columbia. If that entry in his LinkedIn profile (below) is accurate—if he really has a doctorate—then he is "Dr. Jeff Woods."
But, in all the time I worked for him, he never used that title.
Getting away with it?
SS-8 statute of limitations
The Internal Revenue Service processed the SS-8 form I submitted, which stated I was misclassified as an "independent contractor." The IRS issued letters of response in late July 2022 and early August 2002, both concluding I worked as an employee. The second letter was because my employer was purchased by a larger company during my last year.
However, justice will not apply for my first one-to-two years working at Realize/NuMSP. Although I will be compensated for income tax I paid that my employer should have withheld from my paychecks, the correction and the justice that goes with it are limited by federal statute. Realize/NuMSP will get off scott free for one or two of the first years I worked, due to time elapsed until the SS-8 was submitted.
That will leave me without compensation simply because I was unfamiliar with the employee/contractor matter and did not know to file a 1040X to protect my rights during SS-8 processing.
Of course, Jeff Woods and Krystal Staring were familiar with all of these matters and set up the 1099 land mine. And, NuMSP VP of Finance Lyndon Laemmerhirt knew about it when he organized several other executive managers to dogpile me in front of the Oklahoma Department of Labor, determined to make sure I was not treated honestly or fairly in Oklahoma.
The net effect will be that at least $2,459 of my paid income tax will remain an uncompensated loss due to Jeff Woods, Krystal Staring, and NuMSP execs like Lyndon Laemmerhirt, Jim Griffith, Parag Ramaiya, Katie Kelly, and Adam Jacob Muller.
NuMSP was founded by Melih Abdulhayoglu, who has not intervened in the spectacle caused by his managers' actions at Realize Information Technology.
When I wrote an article several years ago about the 2016 "Owasso Tech Job" scam*, I said that rich kids like AppleOne temp agency and their local manager Bill Bryan prioritize "keeping the money" no matter what. Not even public exposure or law enforcement action will motivate corrupt corporations to return stolen money. That is still true at most businesses, including Realize/NuMSP.
All that said, there are penalties for employers who misclassify. Here is an outline from JustWorks.com:
$50 for each Form W-2 that the employer failed to file because of classifying workers as an independent contractor.
Since the employer failed to withhold income taxes, it faces penalties of 1.5% of the wages, plus 40% of the FICA taxes (Social Security and Medicare) that were not withheld from the employee and 100% of the matching FICA taxes the employer should have paid. Interest is also accrued on these penalties daily from the date they should have been deposited.
A Failure to Pay Taxes penalty equal to 0.5% of the unpaid tax liability for each month up to 25% of the total tax liability.
If the IRS suspects fraud or intentional misconduct, it can impose additional fines and penalties. For instance, the employer could be subjected to penalties that include 20% of all of the wages paid, plus 100% of the FICA taxes, both the employee's and the employer's share.
Criminal penalties of up to $1,000 per misclassified worker and one year in prison can be imposed as well. In addition, the person responsible for withholding taxes could also be held personally liable for any uncollected tax.
"Such men of 'towering' egos, in whom ambition is divorced from the people's best interests, were not men to lead a democracy; they were despots."
― Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times
A silent witness
There is a person not clearly identified here who is central to what happened at Realize/NuMSP. That person is usually referred to as "the company's scheduler" or "[scheduler]" on this page. She was the only Realize manager who would not have approved of the actions taken by Jeff Woods and Krystal Staring, had she been in the room.
If fact, it is possible that the reason she resigned in August 2021 (before I did) was that she could no longer tolerate being in an office with so many ethical breaches and broken laws.
That said, she still benefits from the approximately $90,500 that Mr. Woods diverted from the value of my work-hours. This is possible because she is married to Mr. Woods. The two of them are spending my money along with theirs as part of their "lifestyle."
Come to think of it, the same thing applies to Realize/NuMSP accountant and office manager Krystal Staring. She enthusiastically joined in Mr. Woods's plans regarding the 1099 land mine. She, also, has spent money from my wages alongside her own.
Where are the projects?
Mr. Woods's corporate attorney Stephen Clouser was very proud to present a sequence of 1099 forms to the Oklahoma DOL.
Mr. Clouser forgot to mention the significance of using such forms without warning your employee that the purpose of a 1099 is to strip working Oklahomans of legal protections and basic rights.
I hope he won't mind if I use his own "evidence."
First of all, the 1099 forms reveal what salary Jeff Woods thought I deserved for yearly income. Secondly, the amounts of money paid out also reveals hours worked.
2017 $8,034.11 2018 $12,450.55 2019 $16,782.45 2020 $19,468.82 2021 $8,871.65 ---------------- $65,607.58 TOTAL divided by $25/hour 2,624.30 hours worked
I know each yearly salary looks low, but please remember I believed that I was helping my friend-from-church launch his new Web Services department. I believed his success would also be my success.
Mr. Woods has three degrees in business management, according to his LinkedIn profile. I keep wondering if he just sat in class without taking notes?
Each time Mr. Woods signed my paychecks or reviewed the yearly payroll tax forms, he knew he was placing me in or near poverty. And, he knew how my salary compared to that of his full-time technicians and technicians in and around Tulsa. He also knew that I was past age 40 and that getting an additional tech job at that age was almost impossible.
Mr. Woods knew that as someone past age 60, I had entered a time in life where it is critically important to set aside part of wages for old age. He knew that these many actions to cause me financial losses would have painful consequence for years to come.
Mr. Woods also knew I had no access to health care in the midst of a global pandemic. As the person who controlled whether or not any sales was done to supply his new web services department with enough cash flow to be healthy, he knew how his disinterest in sales was harming me.
No other employer in my life has behaved in a manner remotely like Realize/NuMSP. Frankly, I don't believe any of my other employers would even consider such an idea.
It's important to see what happened at Realize/NuMSP in context. This is not just about Jeff Woods and one employee, with the latter saying "Poor little me." This is one example of something that happens thousands of times every day all across the United States: Managers, owners and CEOs exploiting working Americans as much as they can; stealing wages from their own team members.
And don't forget bribing politicians to be sure there is no law enforcement to stop white-collar crime. For all the "tough on crime" chatter, American police consistently look the other way when it comes to the business sector's all-out assault on working people.
NOTE: Mr. Woods applied for a federal PPP loan in 2020, saying he needed the $77,500 to retain seven jobs (new tab/window). If you divide the amount of the loan by the number of employees, you get $11,071.42 per employee. But I only got about $1,006. I wonder how much of that PPP went into the pockets of management?
Furthermore, including an (alleged) "contractor" in your employee count when applying for PPP is not legal. Here is part of an article by attorney Matthew J. Lapointe:
"This issue came up again recently when a business owner called me for assistance with a Payroll Protection Program loan under the Coronavirus relief act. The new client explained to me that his company had two employees, himself and his business partner, but that the rest of their workers were classified as “1099s.” I had to explain to him that, unfortunately, the PPP Loan rules did not permit him to include payments he made to 1099 independent contractors in his payroll for purposes of determining how much he could borrow on a PPP Loan."—blalockwalters.com
Realize/NuMSP yearly payroll was estimated at $372,000, or $53,142.85 per employee (data from lookupcompanyrevenue.com). That means Mr. Woods decided—via executive decision and by killing sales for web services—that I deserved 75.31% less than his other technicians. (My average yearly salary 2017-2021 at Realize/NuMSP was $13,121.) I need to note that the executive layer (Woods, Staring, Laemmerhirt,etc) skim a lot off the top for themselves. That said: As mentioned elsewhere here, the approximate yearly pay for technicians at Realize/NuMSP seems to be ~$48,544—slightly less than the national average. So, Mr. Woods felt that my skills and work ethic were only worth 24.69% of what his other techs made. I wonder how he might explain that?
And his college instructors where he got three business management degrees; what might they say?
But, wait; wouldn't the new owners of Realize Information Technology make better business decisions? Including fair wages?
Uh ... no.
In fact, NuMSP liked Mr. Woods's management style so much that they jumped in with both feet to declare that I did not deserve to be paid for all my work-hours and that, furthermore, I also did not deserve to be protected from illegal actions directed at me by any Realize/NuMSP manager. It's also possible they exerted behind-the-scenes influence on the ODOL to have me declared a non-employee.
Even worse, NuMSP honchos have recently become completely non-responsive to both law enforcement and public exposure. In the latter case, they continue to stonewall all communication about my missing second-to-last paycheck, described elsewhere here. And when the IRS formally declared in July/August 2022 that I was an employee, NuMSP refused to reverse any of their decisions made during the time they were insisting that I did not deserve wages or protection under the law.
Thumbing their noses at law enforcement says a lot about their character. They seem to be waiting for me to bring a lawsuit against them, knowing full well that I can't afford a trial attorney. Especially since they themselves helped my financial circumstances reach the current crisis state.
Why the drop?
Notice the drop in earnings between 2020 and 2021 on the chart above? If Web Services was growing, then my income should have gone up, right?
My average monthly income in 2020 was $1,622.40. After more than a year of Mr. Woods inexplicably placing numerous projects on HOLD, my average monthly income dropped to $1,108.95.
The loss caused by the owner's unexplained holds on projects was ~$4,427.55. (Comparing 2020 and 2021, and removing four months from the equation due to my resignation in August 2021.)
General (physical evidence)
Working for Realize/NuMSP was my only job during the full term of my employment. (tax forms)
Paid (physical evidence)
Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) paid me at both fixed and hourly rates. Building a new website was fixed-fee, but projects like CarePrecise, monthly newsletter, website maintenance and assisting the hardware techs were hourly. (daily paper timesheets, daily digital timesheets in ConnectWise, and a price sheet)
Financial control (physical evidence)
I was initially paid out of a bank account the owner set aside for "Luke 5 Marketing" which was a DBA for this employer. Jeff Woods (Realize owner) tired of doing web services as a DBA and folded it into Realize, and apparently used a regular business account. The Realize/NuMSP attorney made a great deal of noise about these bank accounts, but I was never made aware of behind-the-scenes accounting and cannot be held responsible. The Realize/NuMSP attorney responded to my wage claim by telling the Oklahoma DOL that "Realize and Mr. Purtell did not use paychecks or paystubs."
So, I sent the DOL images of several paychecks and paystubs sent by Realize/NuMSP. Suddenly, the Realize/NuMSP attorney was silent on the topic. (paychecks, paystubs)
Financial control (physical evidence)
Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) asserted that I did not report my time as did other employees. But, I subsequently submitted 24 paper timesheets from the era before Realize/NuMSP had digital timekeeping. (I also provided screen captures of my timesheet maintenance within ConnectWise.) A former Realize tech named Michael Jaudes looked at these paper timesheets and said it was "exactly" the same one used by other company techs.
Realize/NuMSP then asserted that I was only given a "template." But, each one bore distinct daily records of work I performed. The January 2019 timesheet below shows (fixed-fee and hourly) web services work for CarePrecise.com, Holder Total Security, Brookshire Benefits, G.C. Marketing, Realize Information Technology. Suddenly, the Realize/NuMSP attorney was silent on the topic.
If you look at the overview material submitted by the attorney, you'll begin to notice he seems to be trying to convince the Oklahoma DOL that I never did any hourly work. Additional companies for whom I did hourly work: FirstTee Tulsa and Luke 5 Marketing. Although Realize/NuMSP seems to be working hard to deny existence of my hourly work, there's an entire column dedicated to that in my timesheets like the one below. There is a very specific reason the company is so nervous: A person who really is a "contractor" is paid a fixed fee or "flat rate" by the project not by the hour.Also as PDF (new tab/window) (timesheets)
Financial control (physical evidence)
NuMSP Human Resources manager Nicole Kelly in April of 2021 wrote to me, stating that local management had begun to describe me as a "contractor" behind the scenes, and that my employer should have admitted this when the local Realize office was purchased: "...you are still a contractor. This should have been disclosed to you at closing. Please send an invoice to your manager and email@example.com."
Previous to the NuMSP purchase, this employer had paid me through the same submitted-timesheet method as all technicians. (email)
NOTE: This email is the closest thing to showing ethical standards to come out of NuMSP since this crisis emerged. Jeff Woods's and Krystal Staring's deliberate misclassification of me at Realize/NuMSP has been endorsed by most of the NuMSP executive management:
- VP of Finance Lyndon Laemmerhirt
- CEO/President/COO Jim Griffith
- Senior Manager, Finance and Operations Katie Kelly
- Financial Planning Analyst Parag Ramaiya
(I'm not clear about VP of Operations and co-founder Adam Jacob Muller, who was a witness to me taking multiple steps to see that the PetroSource website was properly completed, but has since gone silent.)
One good thing came out of this HR email. After I received it, I opened Outlook and did a search of four years and three months of email traffic, looking for the word "contractor." There was only one mention: This email from Nicole Kelly.
Financial control (physical evidence)
Realize Accountant/Office Manager Krystal Staring admitted in a Jan. 6, 2022 letter to the Dept. of Labor that she had created several invoices purporting to represent me; "I then used this information to create invoices/bills on his behalf for accounting recording purposes...".
Clearly, business managers cannot create fake invoices for an employee and without the employee's express consent, include the employee's name in such a way as to suggest the employee created the invoice himself, and then submit the invoice to a government agency as "proof" that the employee was a contractor.
NuMSP apparently told Staring and Mr. Woods that in order to have correct procedure, there had to be invoices from said worker. So, Krystal created them herself. Perhaps she hoped to avoid a conversation with me where she might have to reveal that she and Jeff Woods had set up the 1099 because they wanted to strip me of legal protections and basic rights.
Up until April of 2021, neither I or this employer had discussed or used invoices; only my submitted timesheets.
Essentially, Jeff Woods and his office manager were so eager to make me a "contractor" that the office manager made up several invoices and sent them to NuMSP.
For the entire time I worked at Realize, I never submitted an invoice, only timesheets. Was attorney Clouser hoping that the invoices Staring sent without my knowledge were somehow retroactive over four years and three months?
There is no legal authority in the nation that would tolerate this kind of shenanigans. (letter)
Notice her wording: “I never falsified any timesheets or payroll sheets for Mr. Purtell as he was not an employee.”
Is Mrs. Staring saying that she never falsified documents because it is illegal? Or, is she saying that, since she started claiming in late 2021 that I was not an employee, altering documents is not “falsifying”? If I was never an employee, why go to the trouble in August 2021 of reducing my PetroSource hours from 33.04 to 9.95?
It seems that "as he was not an employee” means Realize can alter any work-hour records, anytime.
This raises a new question: Why spend so much time monkeying with the records of a contractor? Why did Realize/NuMSP spend four years and three months recording “contractor” hours in the same system where they recorded employee hours?
"[independent contractors] now make up nearly half of workers at most technology firms, and in the United States these companies can save $100,000 a year per worker by using contractors in place of full-time employees. What's not to love?"
Companies like TimeCamp and QuickBooks make it clear that contractor time must be recorded independently. Not on internal systems like the paper timesheets and digital records at Realize/NuMSP.
Now, Jeff Woods and Krystal Staring (and apparently also the company scheduler) have back-pedaled; made some of those records disappear. Statements by Mr. Woods’s corporate attorney suggest Realize/NuMSP has deleted my time records.
In the initial Dec. 20, 2021, response to my wage claim, attorney Clouser opened with a 31-paragraph letter. Paragraph #29 ended with the sentence: "Realize has no timecards or payroll records for Mr. Purtell."
Let’s think it over.
"...no timecards or payroll records"? Only two things can be going on in the background behind this statement.
1-They still have all the timecards and payroll records for me that they were using and I occasionally saw when I was their employee, but they are hoping the ODOL will not call their bluff and send over an investigator.
2-Jeff Woods and Krystal Staring got together and spent many hours shredding every paper timesheet I turned in and every payroll record they generated for me during the span of four years and three months. Then they did the same thing with some of my digital timesheets in their new ConnectWise Manage software.
Let’s study #1 and #2.
The problem with #1 is that Realize is now owned by NuMSP, which owns these records and could send someone to Tulsa to make sure are the paperwork is in order and complies with the law.
The problem with #2 is that wholesale destruction of so many records is both illegal and tough to conceal. Here is a short list of people who saw some of these records, even if only in part: The company scheduler who went on to marry Mr. Woods, several of Mr. Woods’s family members who took jobs at Realize for a while during the time I was an employee there, all the technicians who worked alongside me during those four years and three months (*list below), many Realize customers whose technology I worked on during the four years and three months and who received paperwork containing related information, various accountants hired to do special work outside what Mrs. Staring would ordinarily handle, all the postal carriers and delivery persons who came to the second floor and left or picked up items at the table next to my desk (photo below), and so on.
The benefits of records-destruction for management
#1 Mr. Woods doesn’t break any major laws and can go on claiming that he has a self-appointed right to switch me from employee to contractor (after I resigned from my job).
#2 Anyone who shows up for an inspection will find barely a trace of paperwork mentioning my name. They would have to get the facts by interviewing the many witnesses.
I will let readers draw their own conclusions. Mine are throughout this page.
I won’t distract you folks by going into detail about Mr. Clouser also enclosing a stack of papers that contained payroll records for me.
If you are thinking that corporate owners at NuMSP were alarmed to see this chaos, you were wrong. Instead of deciding that Woods and Staring had exposed the company to unnecessary risk, managers at NuMSP demonstrated that they admired what was going on, and they gave this their full endorsement.
*Technicians I worked with as of 2021:
- Joshua Albright on LinkedIn,
- Dakota Hillhouse his Facebook photography page and his Twitter account,
- Glenn Helmuth on LinkedIn
- Darren Cline on LinkedIn
- Michael Jaudes on LinkedIn
- Jeffrey Arnett on LinkedIn
- Patrick Stuart on his band page
- Devin Lauderdale on LinkedIn
- Tammy (Durkee) Kupperschmidt on LinkedIn
- Austin M. Fisher on LinkedIn
- Barry R. Woods (son of Jeff Woods but hired on a 1099 form),
- Other people on 1099 forms: Denise Decatur (relative of company scheduler), Veleda Decatur (relative of company scheduler), Aaron Lanier, and Karrie Woods [company scheduler].
Is Dakota Hillhouse blocking? (click open/close)
Dakota Hillhouse made a good impression on all of us who worked with him at Realize/NuMSP. My only Twitter contact with Dakota was to once compliment his photography. Does Dakota intend to endorse wage theft and deliberate misclassification? If not, why is is he blocking me?
By my count, about 28 people were witnesses to my presence over four years and three months at the Realize office on Harvard Avenue in Tulsa. Most of those would have seen me receiving instructions from management the same as any other employee, and at least eight technicians would have noticed my digital timekeeping records alongside theirs in ConnectWise Manage.
During my wage claim, Mr. Woods carefully steered attention away from the idea of having those witnesses testify. I believe he was alarmed to see my last written statement to the ODOL where I continued to offer my screen captures of timesheet tampering for professional inspection. Despite his and Mr. Clouser's insistence that the screen captures were fake, the last thing they wanted was an expert looking into those items. That would open the door to more professional testimony.
Tools, materials (physical evidence)
Realize/NuMSP attorney Stephen R. Clouser kept insisting that I only used equipment that was my personal property. Yet, Mr. Woods provided me the standard company technician's desk, chair and PC with Windows installed. This was inside the lobby area of the second floor of the normal location in Tulsa. Not remote.
For four years and three months, my Realize managers, Realize co-workers, Realize clients, and delivery people saw me at that desk.
Well, at least attorney Clouser got paid. That's more than I can say for myself.
About two years later I purchased two ergonomic items (tall chair, monitor riser) to alleviate pain. Said chair and riser stayed at my office inside the normal Realize location on Harvard Avenue in Tulsa, because that's where I worked. I took home these two items and no others in late August 2021, after submitting two-week notice on Aug. 17, 2021. (emails, photos*)
Clients (physical evidence)
Realize Information Technology arranged all web services clients through existing client contacts (list below; one exception in 2019). Realize customers had been asking about web services for years, according to Mr. Woods during his recruitment process, so his customers certainly thought of this as part of regular Realize/NuMSP "computer" business.
And, the times I helped the hardware techs were smooth due to the close relationship of our computer skills.
I was recently told that senior Realize tech Joshua Albright is logging into at least one of the sites and making basic text changes per client request. That's a good example of the lack of an extreme difference between hardware computer skills and internet computer skills.
It's worth noting how I was presented to clients: As the Realize employee doing web work for Mr. Woods's new department. Here is a flyer the owner sent out to their mail list to get the ball rolling (PDF new tab/window). No mention of an outside company or contractor.
|Websites built at Realize (NuMSP)|
|505architects.com||J.Woods's "Realize" sales call|
|accountingforenergy.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client PetroSource|
|adhdok.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|bancsearch.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|bennettcahill.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|brookshirebenefits.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|dirtbusterssweeping.com||Owner friends with "Realize" customer|
|elderpaint.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|nextlevelhealthok.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|newbcounseling.com||Owner related to "Realize" customer|
|phillipsgomez.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|soonertaxservice.com||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|stonebridgegroup.net||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|Revisions and maintenance:|
|firstteetulsa.org||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|holdersecurity.com (maint+SEO)||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|onesourceoccmed.com (static site)||J.Woods's "Realize" client|
|realizetech.com (maint+SEO)||Internal now controlled by NuMSP web team.|
|Conversion to mobile-ready:|
|careprecise.com||External referred by K. Purtell to J. Woods|
Length of relationship (physical evidence)
I worked for Realize/NuMSP May 2017-Aug 2021 (4 years 3 months) to further Mr. Woods's ambition to respond to numerous client requests for help with web services. (tax forms, emails)
Employee type (testimony, physical evidence)
Mr. Woods's recruitment pitch did not mention a specific employee definition, but I knew he had seen my LinkedIn profile showing I only worked for full-time employers. However, on May 22, 2017, my first day at the new job, Mr. Woods said the job would be "...part time until Brent [salesman Brent Fields] gets the sales up." (Also, that there was enough office space for two additional web techs if things went well, and that the new Web Services department might someday be spun off as an independent business.) I referred to this part-time status in my one-year report, submitted to Mr. Woods on July 17, 2018: "More free time will give me a chance to find an additional part-time job."
Subsequent to my wage claim, Mr. Woods's attorney introduced a term never before mentioned to me by Realize management in four years and three months: "Contractor." This new word was scattered through the company's submissions to the Department of Labor, sometimes in paragraph after paragraph.
Who would go along?
Folks, who would go along with giving up all your rights for the enrichment of a business owner? That's what happens when you are labeled a "contractor" in the United States.
So, if you were looking for work, and an employer walked up and said "I've got an opportunity for you, but you'll be giving up all your legal rights to be a contractor. Oh, and no health care in the midst of a global pandemic and no vacation and no unemployment insurance."
Would you be interested in a "contractor" role? No. Of course not.
Telling me that he was planning to make me a "contractor" would have ruined Jeff Woods's chances of getting a qualified web developer at a two-thirds discount (using the "admin time" device). Being truthful about management's intent would have discouraged me from accepting the job offer.
The same applies to the fact that the boss never offered a written contract, as is strongly advised whenever the intent is to hire an outside vendor. A written contract would have leaked deal-killing details.
Work when (physical evidence)
Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) directed me to coordinate all work with the admin person who scheduled all the technicians. At first, the company accountant/office manager directed me to use the same paper timesheet as all the other technicians. Later, when the company switched to ConnectWise Manage, I and the other techs all began entering our timesheets in that digital system. (emails, timesheets)
Work where (testimony, cross-reference)
Realize/NuMSP directed me to work with the other technicians at their normal place of business on Harvard Ave in Tulsa. After COVID, I asked to work about two days per week remotely and was granted permission. (cross-reference emails with testimony)
Work performed how (testimony)
Mr. Woods had told me he worked on a very complex education website early in his career, but was not up-to-date on website tools, and allowed me to choose whatever free software might be downloaded. (He refused to budget professional software.)
The background color of this box is pink because this is the only item I found that might have supported attorney Clouser's "contractor" claims.
Services offered (physical evidence)
Mr. Woods gave me a list of services most likely to appeal to his clients (web development, SEO, social media management, reputation management, etc.) and directed me to type it up as a price list that included the max work-hours for fixed-fee projects. He or someone under his control also typed up a spreadsheet version of that document, stored in the same folder.
During the wage claim, Mr. Woods submitted a screen capture showing that I typed up the price list as "proof" that I created the document. Well, duh. He instructed me to type it, so I typed it. (price list)
Behavioral control (physical evidence)
Mr. Woods had a very confident leadership style and expected all technicians to pay close attention to instructions, as was his right as our boss. He determined which clients would get web services, where I would work, and my hours. Because I was not full time (problems with sales), I was allowed latitude on hours, as long as the day's scheduled tasks were completed. (emails, testimony)
Relationship with employer (physical evidence)
This collection of 35 emails with Mr. Woods (or the company's scheduler) showing the tone of the relationship and my deferring to his authority. These were only available to me due to "COVID days" or "bad weather days" when I worked from home. (emails)
Financial control: Forcing employee to work off-the-clock (physical evidence: emails)
Forcing employee to work off-the-clock
Direct question to Realize/NuMSP attorney Stephen R. Clouser:
"Does your client intend to fall back on the existing climate at Realize; that in a situation where a client makes additional requests that exceed the norm, the employee must take an in-place pay cut or demotion? I ask this partly because I am starting to believe Mr. Woods did in fact ignore my advice (during and subsequent to the 505 Architects project) to adopt known industry-standard remedies; either communicate with the client about the time overage, or establish a maximum-revision policy and enforce it consistently."
"I am ready to believe that he did not establish such a policy and wants instead for a Realize worker to 'eat' the cost of client behavior that is outside the control of said worker. One reason the '505' incident is so well remembered is that the client's excessive revision requests forced my wages from $25 per hour to less than $10 per hour. Here is another display of how this in-place pay cut works...
Employee share of fixed-fee $750:
30 hours worked is $25/hour
40 hours worked is $18.75/hour
60 hours worked is $12.50/hour"
The lack of sales and the employer's aggressive policy on "admin time" left me with a net loss of approximately $92,500 (based on total hours at my desk working on web services). The amount sought in the wage claim is only about $2,098, while Realize/NuMSP has spent at least $4,000 in attorney fees to avoid paying for my completed work-hours. My yearly income during this time varied from $8,034 to about $19,468. The federal poverty line is $12,880 for a single individual.
At my second I.T. job in 2004—the first one to involve coding—I earned $49,000 peak yearly salary. But, I re-entered the job market past age 40, and my income has declined steadily since then. Placing this in perspective: Typical yearly salary for a Tulsa-based web developer age 20-40 is $72,000 (Robert Half salary report). My post-40 average yearly salary has been $13,121 (2017-2021 at Realize/NuMSP). That's an 81.7% penalty for being past 40.
According to Indeed.com, "Average NuMSP IT Support yearly pay in the United States is approximately $48,544, which is 8% below the national average." A part of me hopes that the leadership at NuMSP thinks Mr. Woods grossly underpaid his web developer. But, after seeing how NuMSP managers have responded to the wage dispute, another part of me suspects they found Jeff Woods's strategy to be clever.
It's true that the last job was part‑time but remember that Mr. Woods refused to hire a salesperson to replace Brent Fields, and also that employers can trap marginalized workers in sub-standard jobs. Ageism is the underlying factor.
Mr. Woods was paid about $105,000 yearly (± $10,000). His LinkedIn profile says that he retired from Realize I.T. in March of 2021. But he actually continued working under a new title—"Service Delivery Director"—until quitting in February of 2022, when my wage claim was completed (perhaps later).
In companies using the business model of "billable hours," admin is typically one‑third of total hours. Jeff Woods's aggressive policy: "If a customer signed a service agreement and gives us written instructions for work, that's billable. Everything else is admin time."
One flaw in this was that it placed internal decisions like purchasing software into the hands of clients; it was impossible. As a result, two-thirds of my work hours ended up being unpaid. Mr. Woods's Web services department did not exist at Realize when I showed up for work. So, there was a large amount of "admin time" just building the software, procedural and document infrastructure, and Jeff Woods got most of it for free. Then, he squandered the opportunity by declining to hire a salesman.
Management ignored my written and verbal reports about serious concerns. By my third year, I had increasingly worried about the situation and Mr. Woods's unwillingness to address ongoing problems. Quitting the job meant going back to another 1.5‑year search with little or no income. I decided instead to pursue success in web services, and get my weekly hours up to 40 (full-time).
Dates of written and verbal reports:
|Evidence type||Face page key notes|
|Overview (Oklahoma DOL record)||Jan. 27, 2022: On the face page for my last reply to the Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) corporate attorney, I touched on some key points. This was in regard to discrepancies between items as they were in the system before the NuMSP acquisition and how they appeared on the new corporate server after the acquisition:
(One example of a company that does digital forensics is NW3C. Learn more at the NW3C website law-enforcement resources page.)
1099 land mine
|In retrospect, several things are obvious: setup, confirmation, detonation.
State of Oklahoma:
"Whether an employer misclassifies an employee is an IRS matter. Our agency does not make those determinations as it has to do with whether taxes are deducted or not deducted. Our agency has no jurisdiction over tax issues." —Oklahoma Dept. of Labor (Nov. 8, 2021)
Version II (2 months, 27 days later)
CONTRACTOR: "The conclusion is the documentation does not present sufficient evidence of an employer/employee relationship and presents that of an independent contractor relationship. As an independent contractor, our agency has no jurisdiction to resolve your disputes. The proper venue would be small claims court. This claim is now closed and becomes a public record pursuant to the Open Records Act of Oklahoma." —Don Schooler, General Counsel Chief of Staff; Daniel Mares, Attorney III (Feb. 4, 2022)
Possible reasons for decision?
Considering the months of work gathering and submitting evidence, "CONTRACTOR" was a shock. Here are a few guesses:
- Payback In August of 2016, I participated in an OESC hearing requesting unemployment insurance. The hearing officer suspended my right to call witnesses and also suspended my right to have my documentation be included in consideration, which enabled a favorable decision for the former employer (temp agency). I then published an article about this and distributed a link on social media. There is a real possibility that upper-level managers in state government remember that, and noticed my name on this recent wage claim.
- Politics National political conflict has not spared Oklahoma. The dominant politicians are fiercely anti-worker, possibly due to campaign contributions from the business-owner community. There are plenty of historical examples of government employees losing their jobs due to politics, and Department of Labor managers may justifiably feel that they need to avoid "pro worker" activity.
- Intervention As nearly as I can tell, the back-and-forth between me and the Realize/NuMSP attorney was about 50-50 in terms of who was "winning." Hypothetically, an executive manager with NuMSP could have contacted an Oklahoma senator or representative. Influencing politicians can be remarkably easy.
NOTE: Oklahoma DOL received advanced notice of this document in case they needed to correct factual errors (so far, I've only had to remove the name of a DOL employee no longer employed there).
Here are the rules supposedly followed when the state does consider such questions:
Oklahoma Department of Labor
Current as of January 14, 2019
- (A) the nature of the contract between the parties, whether written or oral;
- (B) the degree of control which, by the agreement, the employer may exercise on the details of the work or the independence enjoyed by the contractor or agent;
- (C) whether or not the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business for others;
- (D) the kind of occupation with reference to whether, in the locality, the work is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision;
- (E) the skill required in the particular occupation;
- (F) whether the employer or the workman supplies the instrumentalities, tools and the place of work for the person doing the work;
- (G) the length of time for which the person is employed;
- (H) the method of payment, whether by the time or by the job;
- (I) whether or not the work is a part of the regular business of the employer;
- (J) whether or not the parties believe they are creating the relationship of master and servant, and
- (K) the right of either to terminate the relationship without liability. No one factor is controlling, and the relationship must be based on the set of facts peculiar to the case.
|Evidence type||Employee (blue background) or Contractor (red)|
|Tools (physical evidence)|
|While waiting for a submission to Oklahoma DOL to be processed, I came across several related items in this table.
The attorney for Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) kept insisting that I worked from home. First, a Feb. 1, 2021 video by KJRH in Tulsa about online job scams. Their crew stopped by Realize/NuMSP to interview Mr. Woods, and in the process shot footage of Mr. Woods, followed by me at my standard-issue desk and PC that was property of Realize/NuMSP. (*images below from said video) (© 2022 Scripps Media, Inc)
YouTube link KJRH Channel 2 (new tab/window)
|Data integrity (physical evidence)|
|When I submitted my two-week notice to NuMSP Human Resources on Aug. 17, 2021, the email contained the following text about a large hourly project called CarePrecise. It's important because of the extreme measures Realize/NuMSP went to asserting my employment was entirely fixed-fee/flat rate, as is the case with "contractors.":
"August 3, 2020, I was in a meeting with Jeff Woods and [scheduler] Karrie Woods regarding an hourly project to make the CarePrecise website mobile ready. As they spoke, I realized they planned to cut my wages by either docking the time or by removing support for any time that went over a rough estimate I had provided to the client. This had happened at least once before, with a company named 505 Architects."
The attorney's Dec. 20, 2021 text contains numerous efforts to cast/typify CarePrecise as a fixed-fee/flat rate i.e. "contractor" job. I have indicated each instance of this and other problems with a NOTE:
"Mr. Purtell claims against Realize on the CarePrecise project. He appears to be demanding he be paid time he actually chose to use, rather than the time used to calculate the flat rate price of the project. [NOTE: My wage claim clearly states that the one problem with CarePrecise was that an administrative person told me that a manager had allegedly manually reduced my hours. Nothing else.] Please note that he claims he was to be paid September 11, 2021, or "11 days after last day." He appears to be demanding he be paid time he actually chose to use, rather than the time used to calculate the flat rate price of the project. [NOTE: The 11 days reference is Oklahoma state law regarding how long employers have to deliver wages to an employee: "Employers must set regular pay dates within eleven (11) days of the end of the pay period." —OK Statute 40-5-165.2 ] Yet, he demands payment based on what he admits he now estimates for additional compensation exceeding the agreed flat dollar amount rate. [NOTE: There was no flat or fixed rate for the hourly CarePrecise project. The owner of this company has kept detailed records. ] He was timely paid for his last work on the CarePrecise project. Documents concerning CarePrecise are enclosed. Realize Invoice #1350 dated February 29, 2020, billed CarePrecise $3,300.00 for modifications to existing website. Client check was received March 11, 2020. Realize would prepare itemization of amounts due Mr. Purtell, in order to keep track of its expenses. The form used was headed as a bill, though Mr. Purtell never sent billings to Realize. [NOTE: I didn't send either billing or invoices to Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) because I submitted timesheets just like the other techs.] Bill dated March 15, 2020, shows payment to Mr. Purtell regarding CarePrecise, with noted quantity being one project for modification of existing website, rather than any number of hours. [NOTE: The attorney presented a blizzard of pricing and billing words and documents about CarePrecise to the Oklahoma DOL. What's really odd is that my wage claim never questioned the pricing and billing. The only reason I included this client in the wage claim was that an admin-level person told me the accountant/office manager was allegedly going into the digital record and cutting my hours. So, I made a rough estimate of how much she might have removed (15%) and asked for that, thinking they might come clean and ask her for a more accurate estimate.] On that CarePrecise project he was paid more than the agreed 50%,[NOTE: There is no documentation and was no discussion of converting the hourly CarePrecise project into the new-website fixed-fee status.] which would be $1,650.00, for the simple reason that he spent much more time on that project than he had originally indicated would be necessary. In other words, he was paid more than agreed compensation when he ended up being "upside down" on the time he chose to devote to that project.[NOTE: With all respect to the attorney, who is relying on what his client tells him, the reason the numbers don't align is because this was hourly work. If there really had been a situation where it looked like I was going to be paid more than an agreed-on amount, either Krystal Staring or Jeff Woods would definitely have said something. ] The additional $431.25 paid Mr. Purtell on that project resulted in a decrease in the agreed share of compensation for Realize, [NOTE: In other words, in four years and three months of my working for Realize/NuMSP, this irregular $431.25 payment happened and was never corrected, and it just so happens to involve the largest hourly project I did for Realize/NuMSP?] not an increased charge to the client."
A note about "spending more time" and "upside down on the time": The only time Realize/NuMSP management told me they felt my time management needed tweaking was the Aug. 3, 2020 meeting where they at first talked about altering my ConnectWise time sheets but then switched to discussing an enhanced plan to pre-arrange hours with clients.
Realize Invoice #1481 of June 30, 2020, to CarePrecise was for another web page update, after which the client paid Realize July 6, 2020. Upon receipt of payment, Realize included his agreed one‑third (1/3) [NOTE: There was no talk of 1/3 of anything during my full span of employment at Realize, and nothing like that was in our price sheet.] when paying Mr. Purtell Realize general account check 5093, Again, Realize and Mr. Purtell did not use paychecks or paystubs. [NOTE: After I read this and submitted scanned paychecks and paystubs, the attorney suddenly became silent on this topic. Oh, and in the first response from said attorney, his 30 pages of supporting CarePrecise documents included scans of my paychecks and my paystubs. You know—the ones he said were never used.], and per agreement of Realize and Mr. Purtell, he was not to be paid and was not paid until the project client had first paid. [NOTE: Use of the phrase "until the project client had first paid" is stage-setting similar to use of the word "completed." More on this later.]
At this point, the attorney has prepared a "contractor" narrative. The problem with that is that I entered my CarePrecise hours each day in ConnectWise. The number of records there, the amount of detail, and the contents of all those months of records would have disproved the attorney's theory. What to do? The answer is in bold text in the following:
Realize Invoice #1531 to CarePrecise on August 11, 2020, was for Phase 2 modifications to existing website, at $75.00 per hour [Notice the hourly rate.], paid by client August 12, 2020. August 20, 2020, that project was itemized to Mr. Purtell and he was paid his agreed one‑third (1/3) share August 24, 2020, by general account check 5114. In that instance, the client had 88 web pages, each of which needed to be corrected to appear on mobile devices. Mr. Purtell claimed his correction would require an hour per page, resulting in the 88 hours to which the client agreed before work began. While records might indicate Mr. Purtell worked 88 hours in one (1) day, that was obviously not the case. He worked on that project over a period of several months, while also working on other projects. [ Not just projects, but much hourly work as well. ] The 88 hours were billed for the single day of August 11, 2020, once he had concluded the entire project. That the 88 hours were recorded on a single date evidences that the record was not a timesheet or contemporaneous time card, and that a project was not billed until completed. [NOTE: I recorded daily records of all my work at Realize/NuMSP during the entire four years and three months, including CarePrecise. The only way that months of separate daily records could suddenly be compressed into a single record would be if someone with administrative rights in ConnectWise were to delete all the daily records and replace them with only one. So, this does not "evidence" what the attorney hopes for. It "evidences" something else entirely.] [NOTE: Use of the word "completed" is stage-setting for a novel idea, which I addressed in detail in my reply. See below.] As agreed, the sequence of events was completion of project, invoice to client, payment from client, and then payment of agreed share to Mr. Purtell.
Two possibilities here: 1-The attorney hopes the Oklahoma DOL will believe that months of daily digital timesheets suddenly became one timesheet without any help from a person, or 2-Someone with admin rights inside ConnectWise—such as a manager—actually compressed all those daily timesheets into one. Also, the CarePrecise project was divided into phases as revealed above, after which the client paid. There was no waiting until the entire thing was completed before the client received an invoice. The attorney himself submitted records of multiple CarePrecise payments during the months I was working on the site modifications.
The following is from my last reply to the Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) attorney:
Search destroyed time sheets on DuckDuckGo...(new tab/window)
|Financial control (physical evidence)
From my wage claim correspondence:
It is clear that NuMSP has blocked the normal completion of the Realize PetroSource project, to the great harm of the people at PetroSource. Furthermore, NuMSP's current use of the word "completed" appears to be a ruse to avoid paying me for my part of the work done on the PetroSource website.
If "completed" was crucial enough issue to block the normal payment of wages, then why not raise that issue during my last two weeks? Instead, both Jeff Woods and VP Adam Jacob Muller received my email about wrapping up PetroSource and thanked me.
Imagine if employers were allowed to disregard state and federal law requiring that workers be paid for their completed work-hours, simply by claiming that something was not "completed." No government entity in the United States has ever granted that right. Employers are expected to have a business model that accommodates personnel changes.
If I had tried to stay at Realize/NuMSP long enough to complete PetroSource myself, I would have been doing so at a company where I had been told by our scheduler on 8/3/2020 that the office manager allegedly deleted a chunk of my timesheet hours on the CarePrecise hourly project. And, where I discovered that the office manager also reduced my digital timesheet hours on PetroSource.
Mr. Woods and I had discussed the web team that took over the Realize company website when NuMSP assumed ownership. During our last meeting on 8/27/22, we again touched on the topic. NuMSP VP Adam Jacob Muller was in that meeting via Zoom. Both men seemed confident that PetroSource would be completed by the available web developers.
Fired before my scheduled last day:
Keith Purtell, later in meeting:
NOTE: Firing me three days before my official last day means that I lost three days of production time. This makes Mr. Woods's claims that he couldn't pay me for my completed work-hours because a project was not completed all the more outrageous.
During the wage claim process, I contacted an established Tulsa web developer named Suzanne Bird-Harris. Mr. Woods ran web services as a WordPress-centric operation, and Ms. Bird-Harris is proficient with that technology. I passed along her contact information to Realize/NuMSP in case there was some reason they could not use the NuMSP web team to complete the last few steps on the PetroSource website. (Said team currently manages Mr. Woods's company site at RealizeTech.com.) One would think that Realize/NuMSP would take a customer-first approach and wrap up that project as discussed on 8/27/22 during the firing meeting and then that afternoon in an email.
Mr. Woods and Mr. Muller left the people at PetroSource hanging. Our client was forced to look elsewhere and start over.
The creative Realize/NuMSP use of the word "completed" has led to my current unpaid wages; a direct violation of state law (new tab/window).
"There are no circumstances under which an employer can totally withhold a final paycheck under Oklahoma law"—LawInfo.com (https://www.lawinfo.com/
|Financial consequences of interference||
More than a year "completing"
As noted above, two entire website projects were stalled by management. This was the tip of an iceberg.
Starting in about January 2020, management directed me to start setting aside time on Fridays for a Web Services Meeting, and to send them an agenda of ongoing work in advance of each meeting. One example from 2020 is below this text.
From looking at the agendas that I was able to retrieve, it's clear they began placing a number of money-making projects on hold. There was no clear reason given, but if I asked why, the response was along the lines of my boss needed to call someone first, or he was busy right now with something else, or he would request that our scheduling person remind him later, etc.
Since my boss was our only salesman and also the primary contact with web services clients—who were also his existing hardware/networking clients—he was able to bring things to a grinding halt. I have no idea how much money we lost.
This puts the assertions of NuMSP VP Lyndon Laemmerhirt in fresh perspective: "... his [Keith Purtell's] abrupt departure left us in a bind with customers expecting us to deliver on what Keith was supposed to produce but never did." Laemmerhirt blames an employee for actions taken by mid-level manager Jeff Woods.
Jeff Woods's unexplained holds stretched out for 20 months until I finally resigned. That was 1.8 years of me trying to complete my assigned projects! To me, it seems like a strange way to run a business. But, to the executive layer at NuMSP, this leadership style was so attractive that they organized a dogpile; as illustrated in the section; "Elites speak to us."
For the entire two weeks before my last day, Jeff Woods did not mention anything about incomplete websites. However he did talk about the NuMSP "web team" that took control of Mr. Woods's RealizeTech.com after NuMSP purchased Realize in early 2021. Knowing the technicians on the NuMSP web team were available became my focus as I wrapped up my website work between Aug. 17 and Aug. 27 of 2021.
WEB SERVICES (K. Purtell) WEEKLY PLANNING w/ Jeff Woods & Karrie
"JW:" indicates origin of HOLD status; Jeff Woods.
1- Realize Information Technology site
RIT team/employee pictures for site (with Dakota) D5500 -Start week of the … At first, I couldn't see why this was endlessly delayed (never got done). Considering what has happened recently, I wonder about the risk of allowing employee pictures that might include me, and then having to frantically take them down if-and-when the boss and the office manager used the "1099 land mine"?
SEO landing pages bring in more business? JW: HOLD
Newsletter is underway …
Mobile background sizing (lame response FameThemes tech support ) JW: HOLD
Create sketch or mockup based on RR concepts about splash page SEO. JW: HOLD
iPad nav bar not normal -suggest test of existing code in RIT staging area. JW: HOLD
Button on splash to Contact Us with pre-populated subject line. (section-hero.php) JW: HOLD
Facebook image size ( older post; can’t change )
We may have to remove reCaptcha spam filter and use alternative. Will have to monitor for more spam.
1b- All WP sites… A) Charge for maintenance? B) stop updates from breaking sites C) stop updates completely. We now have a ticket and are starting this. (Turn off all plugin updates except Wordfence. I also need to find the steps to do similar with updates for themes and for WordPress itself.)
A- Client to select theme for new site (down to two choices by Nick Denison)? JW: HOLD
B- Begin the base build
3- 505 Architects additional enhancements or SEO JW: HOLD
A- Ready for staging area etc., email tests
B- Phase II - Work on new version of mid-section on splash page
C- Phase II - New instructions from Brian Thomas; downloaded new image library.
D- Brian responded "Not at this time" to query. I found out he had a Google tracking code for SEO but was not doing anything with it, so as a courtesy I pasted it into his website.
4- StoneBridge Group
A- Keith sent list of needed-to-complete items to Stonebridge. JW will contact
B- Target 40 hours work
5- PGI / SEO
A- PGI has started asking about SEO; prelim work done. SENT Walter a note and SEO doc. JW: HOLD
6- Business development for Realize Information Technology
7- OneSource - 9h per month.
A Text edits (plus two image changes); create new WordPress login first via FTP.
[Realize owner] suggested he and I go over website; general overview. Keep LIST handy/suggest edits.
8- Social Media Management
A Social media "agency." FREE: Buffer, HootSuite (3 max), SocialOomph, Friends+Me. JW: HOLD
B Samantha Melhorn (Robin Robins) PDFs to JW (is any info transfer pending?) JW: HOLD
C Set final date for "Luke 5" on Twitter and Facebook, or park the name? JW: HOLD
9- UCC website branding/ transitioned to OneEach
10- Legal liability for client security decisions.
A- Do we need to issue a disclaimer, for cases where a client undermines their own digital security? See attached document… DRAFT a boilerplate, respond back, print. We must notify client/announce. Here's the original format (PDF) from that meeting and also as a JPG image
|"...until the client has first paid"||
Realize/NuMSP (managed service provider) needs a lot of luck using this excuse to avoid paying workers. Oklahoma state law is the ultimate authority, or perhaps the ODOL.
Are my former co-workers in the hardware department at Realize waiting for clients to make final payment before they get their paycheck? No; that's ridiculous. This ploy was concocted alongside "completed."
The reason they are not waiting is that the hardware/networking techs are beneficiaries of a competent business model that covers variability in client payment.
″...until the client has first paid” is another example of language Realize/NuMSP did not use over the course of my four years and three months there, but began to constantly repeat during the wage claim process.
Retaliating against me when I reported tampering with digital timesheets by firing me on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, caused me to lose three days of production time. I was originally scheduled to work until Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2021.
|Elites speak to us||
NuMSP VP of Finance Lyndon Laemmerhirt sent several emails about me. I grouped them into one Feb. 14, 2022 reply. An abbreviated version of that email:
November 5, 2021
"I trust you have discovered this, and have not made statements to suggest that you were an hourly worker at any time."
"As a courtesy, letting you know that I will reach out to the department of Labor and set the record strait [sic]."
December 20, 2021
"We all make mistakes so we wish him well, but he is not being forthcoming with regards to having ever been an employee of NuMSP, he was paid only when he delivered projects."
January 19, 2022
"Keith Purtell never questioned his status as an independent contractor until after he terminated his business agreement with NuMSP."
"Keith had completed a W9 form, and his compensation was reported on 1099 forms per IRS guidelines for independent contractors. Keith's compensation was paid from the general operating bank account and not the payroll account that was used for employees."
"Keith was not managed in the same way the employees were managed."
"Keith chose when and how he worked and how he completed the projects he worked on."
Feel free to look up former Realize Information Technology employees on LinkedIn and ask them yourself (Search LinkedIn [new tab/window). Jeff Woods is old school; top-down. I have never had another employer who fired people so frequently, or who was so likely to roar at well-intentioned employees who tried too hard to be helpful.
"During acquisition negotiations between myself and NuMSP Jeff Woods correctly reported that Keith Purtell was an independent contractor and was not included in the employee records. Jim Griffith, former CEO of NuMSP told Jeff Woods that NuMSP did not offer web services like Keith was providing for Realize and that NuMSP may choose to stop providing those services after acquisition. During acquisition Adam Muller, former vice president of operations from NuMSP and Jeff Woods discussed whether to keep Keith Purtell as an independent contractor and continue to provide web services or terminate the agreement and stop providing web services. Adam Muller decided to continue to use Keith Purtell as an independent contractor and continue to offer web services on a trial basis."
"It was clearly communicated to Keith Purtell that he was an independent contractor and not an employee."
"He was not provided an employee offer letter like all the existing employees. He also did not participate in the new employee orientation and onboarding that the employees were required to attend. Adam Muller also took all employees out to dinner to welcome them to NuMSP. As an independent contractor Keith Purtell was not invited and did not attend."
What is "criminal" and what is not? Does having lots of money make a person immune from criminal prosecution? Is there a category of people with a "right" to perform criminal actions? What kind of person enjoys making another human being a crime victim?
Crimes are considered offenses against the state, or society as a whole. According to workingnowandthen.com: "Yet there's still a massive gap between the wage theft recoveries reported by government agencies and estimates for how much employers underpay their employees. According to a 2014 report from the Economic Policy Institute, the true cost of wage theft is more like $50 billion a year."
Crimes by employers against employees not only harm individual American workers; they also lower morale and trust throughout society.
Types of federal crime:
White-Collar Crime is financially motivated, non-violent crime committed by business professionals. Examples: wage theft, fraud, bribery, Ponzi schemes, insider trading, racketeering, embezzlement, and money laundering.
Tax crimes are typically prosecuted on a federal level. Misclassification is considered a form of tax evasion...
"If the IRS suspects fraud or intentional misconduct, it can impose additional fines and penalties. The employer could be subject to criminal penalties of up to $10,000 per misclassified worker and one year in prison (Section 7202). In addition, the person responsible for withholding taxes could also be held personally liable for any uncollected tax (Section 6672)."—bloombergtax.com
Offenses against the state
That means that even though one person might murder a particular person, the murder itself is considered an offense to everyone in society. Accordingly, crimes against the state are prosecuted by the state. The prosecutor (not the victim) files the case in court as a representative of the state.
This has attracted the attention of corrupt businessmen and business groups, who have watered down laws and interfered with prosecutors and districts attorney, all to make white-collar crimes something rarely punished. (The Social Acceptability of White Collar Crimes in America, by Joseph P. Martinez; Eastern Michigan University)
If it were a civil case, then the wronged party would file the case.
- Anti-social values: This is also known as criminal thinking. It includes criminal rationalization or the belief that their criminal behavior was justified. Individuals possessing this trait often blame others for their negative behavior, and show a lack of remorse.
- Criminal Peers: Individuals with this trait often have peers that are associated with criminal activities. Most are often involved with substance abuse including drugs or alcohol. Peer influence often persuades the individual to engage in criminal behavior. They will also typically present with a lack of pro-social community involvement.
- Anti-social personality: These traits often include atypical behavior conducted prior to the age of fifteen and can include, running away, skipping school, fighting, possessing weapons, lying, stealing and damage to either animals or property.
- Low self-control: This involves one’s ability to control temperament and impulsivity. People that carry this trait often do things that they didn’t plan, and will fail to think before acting. The mindset is of the here and now, and not on the consequences of the behavior.
“I am a thrill seeker.”
“I like to get revenge on authorities.”
“I never feel guilty.”
“People who mess with me always regret it.”
If you think any of the statements above describe you, then you most likely have a tendency to display antisocial, callous and reckless behaviors. According a study dating back to 2010, there were at least three times as many psychopaths in executive or CEO roles than in the overall population. But more recent data found it’s now a much higher figure: 20 percent.
Narcissism involves an unrealistic sense of grandiosity and superiority, manifested in the form of vanity, self-admiration and delusions of talent. Here are the main characteristics of narcissistic and toxic bosses:
- They often crave validation and recognition from others. This is primarily because their self-esteem is high but fragile. Bosses who constantly show off are probably desperate for others’ admiration.
- They tend to be self-centered. This means they’re generally less interested in others and have deficits in empathy. For this reason, they are rarely found displaying any genuine consideration for people other than themselves.
- They have high levels of entitlement. Narcissists commonly behave as if they deserve certain privileges or enjoy higher status than their peers enjoy.
Report factual errors
I am open to correcting factual errors. I may be reached via direct message on Twitter @keithpurtell (new tab) or the Messenger tool on Facebook @keith.purtell (new tab).
'Owasso Tech Job' article
*2016 “Owasso Tech Job” scam (related topic)
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